EASTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – The Massachusetts Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development awarded Easthampton a substantial Community Development Block Grant (CDBG). 

The grant totaling $1,089,000 was announced last week as part of the Healey-Driscoll Administration’s celebration of CDBG awards throughout the Commonwealth for Fiscal Year 2022/23. With this grant, the City will keep working on improving public infrastructure and quality of life for residents of this neighborhood by developing the final design and creating construction documents to rehab and improve the sewer, water, drainage, street, and sidewalk systems.

“This grant is an important piece of our continuing work to lift up all members of the community,” said Mayor LaChapelle. “New City is one of our most densely-developed areas, has a high concentration of low to moderate income residents, and a significant renter population.  By focusing on this neighborhood, we are channeling City, State, and Federal dollars on infrastructure that has long been neglected and is well past time to replace.”

The grant is a partnership between the Planning Department, DPW, and the Mayor’s office and it is aimed at improving the quality of life for residents of the New City Neighborhood, one of the oldest and densest residential sections of the City, by upgrading outdated and inefficient public infrastructure. The Planning Department and neighborhood residents have held several in-person events on Federal and Parsons. Groups explored issues and opportunities in the neighborhood, held a design charrette, and created a New City Infrastructure Master Plan together.

And design development and bid-ready construction documents will be developed with grant funding for the rehabilitation and improvement of outdated and inefficient underground infrastructure, streets, and sidewalks in the New City neighborhood. It’s one mile east of downtown and is bordered by Parsons Street on the east, Ferry Street on the north, Everett Street on the south, and Lower Mill Pond on the west. Once this design project is done, this initiative will continue with building the physical improvements that will replace water and sewer mains, drainage systems, and street and sidewalk surfaces in the neighborhood over the next decade.

Easthampton’s Office of Planning and Community Development says the grant money will be used for:

1. Design development and bid-ready construction documents for cured-in-place-pipe (CIPP) sewer lining and spot repairs for the entire neighborhood, including engineering for spot repairs and dig & replace where necessary; easement clearing plan for better access to areas where the City has sewer lines/easements through residents’ backyards; and updating easements for backyard sewers. As sewer pipes are usually the deepest in the ground, they need to be addressed first. CIPP can be done neighborhood-wide with a little digging, and it’ll improve sewer functionality and longevity. As soon as the CIPP lining is done, other infrastructure can be repaired/replaced without disrupting the sewers.

2. Develop construction documents for slope stabilization along Emerald Place, since erosion threatens the slope’s stability. Using the 2023 MVP grant program, matched with City Enterprise funds, the City developed the geotechnical design for slope stabilization based on the schematic designs. Additionally, funding will go to other Emerald Place infrastructure improvements (water, drainage, green infrastructure, streets & sidewalks), a traffic study/evaluation of the one-way redesign, a pedestrian path connection to Everett St., a bike/ped bridge over the millpond spillway with a pocket park at Ferry St and Emerald Pl, a right-of-way impact plan, and a final easement plan.

   3. Develop construction documents for water, drainage, green infrastructure, streets, and sidewalks in the northeast section of New City Neighborhood (Oakdale, Dartmouth, Exeter, Federal, and Glen Cove). Additionally, this activity includes a construction phasing plan, right-of-way impacts plan, and final easement plans. This work will create designs to improve the critical infrastructure and begin to prepare for climate impacts through the implementation of green infrastructure, street trees, and creating a walkable streetscape with road and sidewalk restoration after all the underground infrastructure work is done.

4. The City will also pursue additional local and state funds to improve park spaces on Lincoln Street (the former Parson Street school bus loop and the pocket park at Parson and Federal Streets). According to the previous master plan and public outreach, we’re going to make these public spaces more enjoyable, provide activities and resources for a wide range of residents, including a variety of age groups, and coordinate the two spaces so they work together.

“This project builds on the New City neighborhood’s vision for itself. When the designs are completed, the City will be a big step closer to having shovel-ready projects, eligible for large pots of state and federal funds to build the infrastructure rather than placing the burden on Easthampton taxpayers”, said Senior Planner Jamie Webb.

Local News

Kayleigh Thomas is a digital reporter who has been a part of the 22News team since 2022. Follow Kayleigh on Twitter @kayleighcthomas and view her bio to see more of her work.